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With Newly Diversified Portfolio, Santa Margherita Looks To Expand U.S. Footprint

December 6, 2018

Since leaving the Terlato Wines portfolio and establishing its own U.S. import arm in 2016, Miami-based Santa Margherita USA has looked to expand its business both through organic growth and portfolio additions.In January 2017, the company oversaw a major realignment of its distribution structure and partnered with new wholesalers across the U.S. market, among them Republic National Distributing Co. (RNDC), Empire Merchants, Breakthru Beverage Group (BBG), Young’s Market Co., and Johnson Brothers.

More recently, Santa Margherita USA has expanded its portfolio to include a number of third-party Italian brands. Early this year, the company added Lombardy winery Cà Maiol ($16-$24 a 750-ml.)—which includes two wines made from Trebbiano di Lugana, a rosé, and a red blend—and Sardinian estate Cantina Mesa ($16-$42)—whose portfolio consists of Vermentino, Carignano, and Cannonau wines. Those moves followed Santa Margherita’s January 2017 addition of Franciacorta winery Ca’del Bosco, which offers a range of méthode champenoise sparklers retail priced from $40-$120 a 750-ml. The label currently sells around 8,000 cases in the U.S.

“Because we partner with major wholesalers to offer a lot of our products, we try to be succinct and strategic with the brands we bring into our portfolio,” says Vincent Chiaramonte, CEO of Santa Margherita USA. “Right now, we’re bullish on Lugana-appellated wines from Cà Maiol, and we’re seeing that Vermentino could be the next solid growth category for Italian white wine.”

While outside brands are factoring more heavily into Santa Margherita USA’s overall strategy, the company’s flagship, super-premium label continues to be the primary growth driver. The brand’s Pinot Grigio ($22), in particular, has long generated substantial volume in the U.S., with around 700,000 cases sold annually. Outside of Pinot Grigio, the Santa Margherita lineup also includes a Chianti Classico Riserva and two sparkling wines: a Prosecco Superiore DOCG and a sparkling rosé (all $22).

Santa Margherita USA has embraced the Chianti Classico Riserva and the sparklers more emphatically this year, according to Chiaramonte, with all three wines receiving more aggressive marketing. In late 2017, the sparklers were rebranded to better reflect Santa Margherita’s history with sparkling winemaking; the new bottles debuted alongside the company’s “Uncork Extraordinary” media campaign, which is set to continue on through 2019 in the television, print, and digital spheres. As part of the campaign, the company also introduced consumer-facing experiential pop-ups for the first time last summer. Referred to as the “Behind the Vine” tour, the pop-ups ran in a number of the brand’s key markets nationwide, and featured virtual reality simulations of the Santa Margherita winery, vineyards, and cellar, among other sites. Chiaramonte notes that the pop-ups will also play a role for the company next year.

Italy’s Marzotto family founded Santa Margherita USA in 2014, in an effort to consolidate its brands into a singular import company and more efficiently manage its sales and marketing resources. In addition to Santa Margherita, the company owns the Torresella, Kettmeir, Lamole di Lamole, Sassoregale, Feudo Zirtari, and Fattoria Sardi estates.—Julia Higgins

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